15 March 2009

Pink Spaghetti in Alfredo with Cornflake Chicken Fingers

I thought I should have a fun end to my ridiculous colour-coded food odyssey, so I decided to do something a tiny bit crazy. Pink spaghetti.

I didn't buy it like this, no. I made it myself; it's regular white (high fibre) spaghetti but I stained it with beet juice. What a mess. There were pink dots of beet juice all over the stove and my hands were bright red.

I boiled up a smallish beet, then skinned it and twisted it up in some cheesecloth so that I could squeeze the juice out without dirtying my hands. Alas, I didn't cook it long enough and so to get the juice, I hand to kind of mash it with my hands. It was stupidly hot, so I kept shaking my hands to get the juice off and then it'd spray all across the stove instead of into the pot. And then I had to kind of toss the pasta, a lot, to get it all stained, but even though it was cold on top (it sat while I was trying to figure out how to squeeze out the juice), it was quite hot at the bottom of the pot and so it was this double-whammy of hand-burning, skin-staining frustration. (You might ask why I didn't use something other than my hands to toss it, but that'd be because the spaghetti hook was already in the sink to be washed, along with nearly everything else that'd be touched by the beet juice - I was worried about staining things.)

Actually, the whole thing was an exercise in frustration. I had planned to photograph it, cold, in a clear glass cup with a little sauce at the bottom and a nice spiralled nest of pasta on top. But what I thought was cold pasta (perhaps my singed fingers weren't reading temperature too accurately at that point) was still warm enough to fog up the glass, so I gave up on that.

I don't particularly like the look of this against this green cup - I should have used the blue set instead because it might have looked a little less... gross. Just not a good colour combination.

Anyway, in the midst of all the frustration with the spaghetti, I over-cooked my chicken fingers, so they were a bit dry. Surprisingly tasty for something coated in cornflakes, though a touch bothersome in their sweetness.

Those I made by dredging strips of chicken breast in a mixture of flour, salt and pepper, and garlic powder, then dipping in a mixture of melted butter and mustard, then coating with the slightly crushed cornflakes. I really liked the taste of the mustard beneath the sweet cornflakes, but I think if I were to do this again, I'd skip the cornflakes and use panko instead. They baked up nice and crispy though, which was good since I was a little concerned they'd come out soggy rather than crispy.

Like I said at Flickr, if I were still an 8 year old girl, this would probably be the coolest lunch ever. I served my spaghetti in Alfredo, but your average kid who doesn't like the taste of anything could eat it as easily with a bit of butter and some mild cheese melted on. (And it could be done much more easily with already red pasta or by using canned beets, which would be soft enough to cause less problems. I'm not sure if red pasta has the flavours of the vegetables used to dye it, though, and this I can assure you does not. Tastes just like white pasta.)

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